Shark’s Cove is arguably the most iconic snorkeling spot in the world. It consistently ranks in the “Top Shore Dives in the World” lists. We want to share our favorite summer snorkel spot with you and provide everything you need to enjoy the experience!
You will meet us at our Kailua storefront to pickup the gear. With this self-guided tour, you'll get a small bottle of biodegradable baby shampoo as defog for your mask, a dry bag, a snorkel mask and fins, a life vest, and some great tips on where to snorkel and the best routes.
The calm clear waters of Sharks Cove hold an impressive amount of sea life. The volcanic rock formations of the small bay coupled with a sea bottom made of large smooth rock formations provide a protective environment for marine life to thrive. This is no coral garden, so don’t expect rainbows of colors, but you won’t be disappointed with the lack of fish and the occasional sea turtle that ventures into the cove. Needless to say, Pupukea and more specifically, Sharks Cove, is a snorkeler’s paradise.
For this snorkel experience, there are 3 main snorkel locations that are all within walking distance of Pupukea Beach Park.
Shark’s Cove is a part of the Pupukea Beach Park on the North Shore. Not to worry if the name is not familiar; the location is nestled between Sunset Beach and Haleiwa, making it a convenient location for anyone who is exploring the north side of the island. This location alone has enough to keep you busy all day.
Sharks Cove has a rocky entry into the water. We’ll help you out by showing you the best entry point, but if you are uncomfortable with uneven ground and using your hands and feet to make your way to the water, the next snorkel spot, Three Tables, will be a better fit for you.
There are always fish hanging about, especially along the edges of the cove, along with scattered coral and sea urchins. If you are lucky you’ll also see sea turtles (more common) and sting rays (much less common).
Shark’s Cove is great for beginners and even better for more experienced snorkelers. With all sorts of lava tubes to check out and varying depths around the whole cove to dive down to, you can explore some sweet pockets of ocean life.
If some of your party decide not to snorkel, or don’t like deep water there is also a great place to wade and explore on the south side of Shark’s Cove. The Pupukea tide pools are a perfect option for families traveling with smaller children or for anyone who is not too keen on snorkeling.
All in all, Sharks cove is best for its interesting rock formations and great underwater views.
This location is just a short walk from sharks cove. For many people, Three Tables Beach is a better place to start snorkeling, especially if it’s your first time. There’s a perfect sandy entry area where you can walk into the water with your snorkel mask on and wade into the water where you can put your fins on without big waves pushing you around. The bonus for this location is that there is some live coral scattered throughout that whole area and turtles love hanging about the “table” rock formations of Three Tables.
This far side of the bay is walking accessible. It’s about a quarter-mile walk from Three tables and is an option to mix things up if you are doing the 4-hour rental. The North side of Waimea Bay is known for its cliff jumping in the summer, but the south side of Waimea Bay has some nice snorkeling. Right at the water’s edge, there’s a fun rock that fish like to hang out at. All along the water’s edge, as you snorkel further along the rocky side of the bay, there are fish moving with the tide through the rocks. If you follow the shoreline amid the large round basalt boulders, you’ll find some patches of coral reef deep down and at the end of the point, there are massive lava boulders that litter the seabed. It’s a unique place for sure.
Shark’s Cove is located in an area famously known for some of the biggest and best surfing in the world. Please check the weather report to make sure there are no large swells on the day you visit. October through April is considered as the surf season with the biggest waves hitting the North Shore from December to February. With that in mind, the best time to visit Shark’s Cove would be in the summer months.
Shark’s Cove is popular and parking is limited. Be sure to get there in the morning for prime parking. If not, you may have to find parking further down the road and walk it in.
We suggest parking here: https://goo.gl/maps/jZ6HeqGDS7fZJCqNA
That parking area is less competitive in the mornings and still just a short walk to either of the snorkel areas.